You really should follow the doctor’s orders

By EditorProofer Emma's Corner, Writing Tips 3 Comments on You really should follow the doctor’s orders

Doctors warn against keeping old cosmetics for a very good reason. I’ve just experienced the fallout of not following this advice first hand. Yes, guilty as charged. I used an old tube of mascara and gave myself a nasty eye infection. Don’t I feel stupid.

I dragged myself to the GP who referred me to a specialist after I showed no signs of improvement over four days, and they agreed that the best treatment is to just put up with it until it heals on its own. Perhaps I was just feeling sorry for myself but the specialist appeared almost gleeful when he explained that I hadn’t even reached the peak of the illness yet, and it’s going to get worse for the next four to five days before I start to recover.

What this means is that I’m currently hiding away from the world lest some passerby recoil in horror upon catching a glimpse of what used to be a normal-looking eye. The silver lining I suppose is that I’m getting lots of work done since I’m sitting at home at my computer all day. To the lovely woman whose book I am currently editing, I know you’ve been waiting patiently and these last few days have been a great opportunity to catch up, so you should see the results quite soon.

The other thing I’ve finally had the opportunity to do is to sign up to Twitter. I still don’t quite know how it all works and I’ve already been getting spammed by authors spruiking, “BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY BOOK.” Notice how the spammers always seem to use caps? (Damien – you might like to include “spruiking” as an Australian term in the upcoming podcast on slang.) Regardless of the teething problems, in my initial foray into the world of tweets I did come across a great little tip which I retweeted for my followers:

When you’re sick of editing your own work, you should print it in a different font with different margins. It works!

I love this tip. When you’re reviewing your own writing it’s too easy to read what you want to see, or for your brain to remember what it’s supposed to say, rather than the words that are actually on the page. If, like me, you focus on your manuscript until you’ve basically memorised the whole thing, you’re very likely to miss obvious errors. As an editor, I’m often able to recall odd things like: the protagonist bought an iced coffee at the bottom of the first page of Chapter Eight. Then, when I discover in Chapter Fourteen that the character is severely lactose intolerant, I can flick straight back to the correct section to change that iced coffee into an iced tea – saving the protagonist (and the reader) from a nasty bathroom break. However, the author who described the medical condition often believes they have been consistent the whole way through. By changing the appearance, you artificially put a brand new manuscript in front of you, making it significantly easier to proofread and edit – and yourself less likely to falsely ‘remember’ that you’d changed the type of drink.

Another thing people have a tendency to overlook is mistakes, especially doubled-up or misplaced words, at the end of a line of text. By changing the size of the font, the number of words on each line changes and you may find that the error is moved to the middle of the page, making it much more noticeable.

Whilst this is a great tip when self-editing your work, please, please, please, remember to reformat your manuscript in accordance with the publisher’s or agent’s requirements before you send it away. Believe me, they don’t look favourably on strange, oddly-sized font and most will simply issue an automatic rejection unless you adhere to the submission guidelines.

On that note, I must get back to editing this novel – my client is itching to submit it to a publisher, and I also can’t wait to see the completed manuscript. If any readers have specific questions or issues you’d like to hear more about, send me an email or leave a comment here and I’ll try to address it in a future post.

Emma is a freelance editor and writer who got her start at Newbie Writers two years ago. In her previous career she was an accountant, but escaped the numbers game to envelop herself in the literary world.

Emma’s Exceptional Editing & Proofreading
Follow me on Twitter: @EEEandP

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  • Damien
    Posted on November 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Ive found the best thing for twitter is to just create conversation. Respond to people to show you read them. I make it clear on my twitter feed that I don’t support or retweet those who just auto mate their tweets with ads.

    One author who does this I think is finally seeing what I mean and has started tweeting some general chit chat stuff and hey people respond!

    Hope your eye gets better. Sounds painful.


  • zencherry
    Posted on November 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Yeah, the ads get a bit annoying, but I started conversations and found some pretty amazing people behind it. I agree w/Damien, just pop in and say Hi! Nice to meet you! 😉
    The font idea is great! Definitely wakes you up out of the humdrum. 😀
    Hope your eye feels better. Don’t feel alone on this. I, I mean someone I know, has gone through this exact thing. 😉

  • Jane Isaac
    Posted on November 12, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Hi Emma – you poor thing. What a nightmare! I do hope your eye is better soon (she says as she digs through her make up to cast out the oldies).
    Thanks for the tip on the editing. Can’t wait to try that one.

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